The humble cliffhanger is a story trope almost as old as the art of storytelling itself. Often employed to hook in viewers and leave them frothing at the mouth for more, the act can fall flat on its face when the show itself is cancelled or remains unrenewed.
Horror TV shows have this particular problem in spades. Outside of the more standard anthology format adopted by shows like Channel Zero, American Horror Story and the Twilight Zone, long-form narrative horror shows have a hard time drumming up enough sustained interest to keep them going.
Ironically this leads to the more prevalent use of the Cliffhanger trope in an attempt to guarantee more episodes but as we’ll find out in this list, it doesn’t always work. Without further ado and with many a spoiler ahead, here are 10 Horror TV Shows That Ended On A Cliffhanger.
10. The Terror
BBC’s The Terror is a horror-infused fictionalised account of the very real lost expedition of ships Terror and Erebus. Both ships were sent to seek out the Arctic’s fabled Northwest Passage in 1845 and never returned. Based on the Dan Simmons novel of the same name, the show follows an excellent cast including Ciaran Hinds, Nive Nielson, Adam Nagaitis and Jared Harris as they contend with poisonous cold, spoiled rations, cannibalistic mutiny and a giant bear/wolf/man-monster.
Throughout its 10 episode run the deaths ramp up exponentially, with crew members going missing or dying in increasingly gruesome ways. By the show’s conclusion only the flawed but courageous Captain Crozier - played by the inimitable Jared Harris - has survived. Throughout the show, we’ve seen him contend with sickness, alcoholism, mutiny and some very serious injuries.
With his crew dead, the monster killed and now safely in the company of the Inuit people, Captain Crozier decides to go missing - choosing to stay with his adoptive tribe and letting them relay a message to the British Empire to ‘never come here’. Ominous. His ultimate fate is left deliberately up in the air, making this very much a ‘soft cliffhanger’. Nonetheless, the lack of closure on this man’s incredible journey was enough to turn the balls blue; and not with cold.